Night Watch

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31 March 07 - 0030 - En route to Addu Atoll, Maldives

I was going to write on my computer tonight, rather than by hand, but the battery crapped out after five minutes. I've no wish to write inside, so here I am.

It's not light enough to write by moonlight, so I have a flashlight tucked under my chin. It doesn't stop me seeing the moonshadows, though. They're as crisp as ever. When I swipe my hand across above the deck, my shadow waves back.

The moon overhead is two days to full. It shine pearly behind some thin, high clouds. With that veil drawn across him, I can almost see the Old Man on the Moon. His smile is like a caricature. With a hand covering one eye and nearly covering the other, I look at the moon and sea a rim of red and blue, one on either side f the white. I wonder, if red, blue, and yellow are equidistant on the light wheel, why are red and blue so important to our light and yellow, seemingly, not at all?

There's a ring around the moon, but only where there are clouds. The rest stays unfinished, a dark dirty grey beside the  pearly white grey. Nothing in he sea or sky tonight s black. It seems to have been banished from the palette.

The sea is slick and oily, untextured except where disturbed by our passing boat or the gentle swells. In our wake, swirls of foam play before dissipating. Behind the boat, away from the clouds and moon, I can still see the horizon. Everywhere else the sky and sea merge seamlessly, grey against grey. The air's been hazy since I don't know when, so it's not different It's just more visible tonight. It seems unreal as I look ahead. As if we're sailing into nothing.

The clouds are eating up the sky. One bright star remains, off to the southeast. Both the big dipper and the southern cross, on opposite sides of the sky, disappeared long ago. I'm sure, if I looked, the ring around the moon would be complete.

Dolphins swam past just as I got on watch. It was just a small pod, and the animals looked small too. They didn't stay long, and no one saw them but me. As always, I feel blessed.

They came back just as I wrote that. Only a few, but they were there. Dark shapes that gave depth to a flawless backdrop. With no phosphorescence in the water I couldn't track their trails, but when they broke the surface with  small splash and a flicker of contrast, I could both see and hear them. Sometimes I followed one by watching the line of disturbed water on the surface as it swam just below.

As before, the pod didn't stay long. As they slowly fell behind I smiled. Thank you for coming to visit, I told them. One stayed at the bow long after the others had left, playing in the bow wake. I wonder what he thinks of this large new object in his backyard.

Two hours of night watch pass slowly, with nothing but my thoughts and the dolphins to occupy me. Te engine is running, and we're making good time across this airless sea. If this keeps up, we'll be at Addu atoll at 1300 tomorrow. But we have to cross the equator first. It's eight miles away, and I shall do it in my sleep.

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